Kozhikode: It was the proverbial rising from the ashes for the government primary health centre (PHC), located on the scenic banks of the Chaliyar river in Vazhakkad, Malappuram district. The PHC was completely destroyed when the river breached the banks three years ago. The PHC is now among the largest Family Health Centres (FHC) in the country and has all modern facilities. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan formally inaugurated the centre, reconstructed under the ‘Rebuild Kerala’ initiative, recently.
The Rs.10-crore project was funded by multinational health care group, VPS Healthcare, as part of its CSR initiative.
In August 2018, the PHC, which serves around 75,000 people of the Vazhakkad and neighbouring Vazahyoor and Cheekode panchayats, got inundated by the gushing floodwaters of the Chaliyar.
Help comes in
When the government decided to renovate the health centre under the ‘Rebuild Kerala’ initiative, Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare, offered to help. Dr. Vayalil then said he would take up the end-to-end renovation of the PHC. Initially, the government had planned just the reconstruction of the building and the setting up of a family health centre at a cost of Rs.2 crore. The VPS group put for a proposal to set up a centre with advanced facilities. After a detailed discussion with the local MLA, the then Health Minister, K.K. Shylaja approved the project. The foundation stone for the project was laid on February 18. The work got over in July.
The 1,500-sq ft facility houses a pharmacy, patient waiting area, clinics, pre-check-up rooms, vision centre, out-patient clinic exclusively for pregnant women, feeding room, cafeteria, special waiting area for elderly people, dental clinic, mini-operation theatre, nursing station, sample collection centre, separate observation rooms for men and women, conference hall, server room, palliative care unit, administrative office, and a vaccination centre and vaccine store. It has an advanced laboratory and an imaging department.
In the backdrop of an impending COVID-19 third wave, ten observation beds with oxygen concentrators and a stabilisation unit to attend to patients suffering from low oxygen saturation are also in place. The disabled-friendly health centre has lift and ramp facilities. An outdoor gymnasium and play area for children are also ready.
District Medical Officer K. Sakkeena said the upgraded health centre was expected to see around two lakh patients a year and the figure underlines the significance of the health centre in the rural area of the district. “The reconstruction of the health centre was our dream. We now have a modern building with the latest technology in place. The health centre will also strengthen our efforts in battling the pandemic,” she added.
“The project highlights the extensive scope of the Aardram mission, a project aimed at changing healthcare delivery at the grassroots level. When the government decided to transform the PHCs into FHCs as part of the Mission, it was planned to be financed by the state and local-government funds along with the participation of civil society. But in some panchayats, this plan was disrupted by the disastrous floods. Dr. Shamsheer came forward to fund the reconstruction of the PHC at Vazhakkad and his business group decided to build an institution that matches international specifications for primary care institutions,” said Rajiv Sadanandan, former Additional Chief secretary.
The new FHC’s structure was developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, and designed by a group of students from the School of Architecture and Planning at Government Engineering College, Thrissur. The technology used is Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panel technology, known as Rapidwall, making the building environment-friendly, non-polluting and energy-efficient.
Vazhakkad grama panchayat president Malayil Abdurahman said the centre expected 700 daily visitors. “Earlier, the number of daily visitors of the primary health centre was around 600. In view of the upgrade, the number could go up,” he said. The local body had appointed additional staff, including lab technicians and ambulance drivers, on a contract basis. The hospital would remain open to the public from 9 am to 8 pm, he said.
Health Minister Veena George, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheeshan, Minister for Local Self-Government M.V. Govindan, Sports Minister V. Abdurahman, chief managing director of Lulu Group M.A. Yusufali, MLAs, and representatives of different political parties attended the inaugural function.